Hendy Wind Farm: We were so busy dealing with the catastrophic implications of the Draft NDF (see below) that it overshadowed the rejection of our Appeal against the Hendy decision in London at the end of November. While this is a bitter blow for us and for all of you who have so generously donated towards our David and Goliath attempt to stop this folly, a show of determination and the knowledge and experience gained is never wasted. Thank you again for your support.
On the ground, the fight with these opportunistic Hendy developers is continuing as they try to discharge planning conditions and construct the remaining turbines. The single second-hand turbine (T5), installed in January 2019 to beat the ROCs subsidy deadline, remains static. T5 was built using an unlawful access off the A44 and without discharging any of the pre-construction conditions.
Various conditions still remain to be discharged and no Commons Land consent has been approved. Powys has refused the application to alter planning Condition 7 which says a turbine that does not turn for 6 months must come down but, disappointingly, they have not enforced removal of the turbine and will not explain this. Nor will Ofgem explain how a last-minute application for a subsidy can be approved when there is no windfarm, no grid connection and no electricity a whole year later!
Meanwhile, the Developer has submitted an application for retrospective permission for the new access (19/1709/FUL) which will eventually come before the Planning Committee.
Could Powys County Council Planning Department be starting to realise that in allowing Hendy Wind Farm to ride roughshod over all planning preconditions and commons rights, they are bringing Welsh Planning and the entire wind industry into disrepute?
Meanwhile, the Bryn Blaen development completed two years ago has yet to make any significant contribution to the National Grid.
Welsh Government Consultation on draft National Development Framework: Together with Landscape Consultant Geoffrey Sinclair (from CPRW Pembrokeshire Branch), your Branch prepared CPRW’s National response to the NDF, which was submitted just before Christmas. Our argument is that we are NOT opposed to all wind-farms but that these should be sited appropriately and that offshore wind (a technology where the UK is a world leader) should clearly be a big part of the mix.
Instead of providing a transparent assessment of future energy needs, and options for meeting them, the NDF assumed that all Wales’ projected renewable energy ambitions would be met onshore. This would be achieved by designating one fifth of Welsh land outside national parks as priority areas, with a presumption of approval for wind farms of turbines up to 250m high and expansive solar arrays all with visual impact throughout Wales. The NDF proposals have been slammed for their poor methodology and implications for landscape, biodiversity, tourism and rural communities.
Natural Resources Wales Area Statements: Perplexingly, at the same time as the NDF was being rolled out, the NRW Area Statements are being prepared with a succession of incoherent discussion meetings where ‘ideas are being sought’ from bemused and apprehensive environmental stakeholders and residents. These statements are supposed to be enshrined as the guiding tenets for future planning decisions, but they are so behind-hand that they will be published this Spring as hotch-potch lists of aspirations with no accompanying spatial planning. They will be subject to the NDF and intimately linked with the new farm payments system and agricultural pollution measures, none of which have been announced. Let’s hope somebody in the Welsh Government knows what is going on.
Readers will recall that NRW (Natural Resources Wales) is the only statutory body responsible for the protection of our natural environment and sustainable management of our natural resources. NRW was drastically re-organised in 2019. We were much encouraged that NRW’s Chief Executive Claire Pillman spoke out in September against the M4 Newport extension, against which CPRW Gwent has campaigned so successfully, so there may be hope yet.
Intensive Poultry Units: Elsewhere, we are continuing our monitoring and mapping of intensive poultry units in Powys and following-up our petition to the Welsh Assembly to regulate these. We have obtained a place on the national planning Intensive Agriculture Working Group and are engaging with NRW, Powys Planning and the cross-border Wye River Nutrient Management body to protect our precious river systems.
Our petition to ensure that planning objections are made available online by Powys County Council (as they are by all neighbouring councils) attracted an impressive 500 local signatures. We will continue to fight for democracy in Powys Planning. The reluctant Council continues to cite cost and ‘data protection concerns’ as it plans to shrink the Planning Department in 2020.
Other Branch news & nominations sought for Branch awards: Alongside these struggles, we hope to bring some enjoyment and reflection on our countryside through our yearly Seminar Days and countryside prizes. We were delighted to see such a wide audience of members at the Trees and Woodlands day we held with the Welsh Woodlands Trust in November.
We ask you to help us with nominees for our Brecon & Radnor Rural Wales and Louis Hurley Awards this year. The Rural Wales award recognises people and organisations who go above and beyond to protect the environment or promote our rich heritage. The Louis Hurley Award is given for particularly good and recent examples of new builds or restorations which enhance the existing local landscape/townscape, and in the case of a restoration/extension, work well with the existing original building.
In the coming year, our branch is eager to seize any opportunities to mitigate the impacts of Brexit, Climate Change and disastrous Biodiversity decline on our Welsh countryside and communities. We cannot do this without your knowledge and encouragement.
We are also hoping to obtain better central resources at CPRW this year. Nationally we only have one employee in Carys at head office: the rest of the work is undertaken by our dedicated volunteers, and is only made possible with your support.
Chair, Brecon & Radnor Branch,
Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales Registered charity number 239899